One of the most important things we do at Haven is to help clients develop a safety plan. Safety plans can be created for an abused individual and their children. We discuss safety plans with children in our Kids Count! and Teens Count! classes and help them to understand the importance of knowing what to do during an argument. There are many things to consider when developing a safety plan. Each plan is different and we recognize the victim of abuse is the best judge of their own situation. There are some general guidelines you can follow to plan for your personal safety.
if you are still in the relationship:
- Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with NO exit, such as bathrooms, and rooms with potential weapons, like the kitchen.
- Think about and make a list of safe people to contact.
- Keep change with you at all times.
- Memorize important numbers
- Establish a code word or sign so that friends, family, teachers or co-workers know when to call 911 for help.
- Think about what you will say to your partner if he/she becomes violent
- Remember you have the right to live without fear and violence.
if you have left the relationship:
- Change your phone number.
- Screen your calls.
- Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.
- Change your locks if the batterer has a key.
- Avoid staying alone.
- Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
- If you have to meet your abusive partner, do so in a public place.
- Vary your routine. Take different routes to work, school or other places you often go.
- Notify school and work contacts.
- Call a battered women's shelter.
If you leave the relationship, or are thinking about doing so, you should take important papers and documents with you. This will help you apply for benefits or take legal actions. Important papers you should take include: social security cards, birth certificates, shot records, marriage license, leases or deeds in you name or both yours and your partners names, bank statement, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your partner and any documentation of past incidents of abuse such as police reports, photos or medical records.
safety in your home
- Immediately after the batterer has left, change your locks and secure your windows with additional locks and safety devices.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children can use when you are not with them.
- Let your children's school and daycare know who has permission to pick them up.
- Tell your neighbors or building manager that your partner no longer lives with you and they should call the police if they see him/her near your home.
safety with a protective order
- Keep your protective order with you at all times. Give a copy to a trusted neighbor or family member.
- Call the police if your partner violated the protective order.
- Think of alternate ways to find protection if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors and your physician that you have a protective order in place.
safety on the job and in public
- Let someone at work know your situation, including any security personnel. Provide a photo of the batterer if possible.
- Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID or a trusted friend or relative screen calls at home.
- Each time you leave work, have someone escort you to your car, bus or train and wait with you until you leave. Vary the ways you travel to and from work.
- If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss your options with someone you trust.
- Maintain positive thoughts about yourself and assert your needs with others. Read books, articles and papers to help yourself feel stronger.
- Decide who you can call if you need to. This should be someone you can speak to freely and count on for support.
- Plan to attend a support group for at least two weeks to learn more about your self and the relationship.
your personal safety plan during an explosive incident
- Practice getting out of your home safety. Identify the best doors, windows, elevators or stairwells to use.
- Pack an overnight bag and keep it at a friend or relative's home.
- Tell one or more neighbors about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Create a code word to alert your children, family, friends and neighbors to the need for police intervention.
- Decide where you will go if you leave home. Make a plan even if you don't know if you will need to get out.
- Trust your intuition and judgment. If a situation is very dangerous, consider giving your abuser whatever they want to help calm them down. You have the right to protect yourself if you are in danger. Always remember you don't deserve to be hit or threatened.
safety while preparing to leave
- Open a savings account or credit card account in your own name to increase your independence.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicines and clothes with someone you trust to that you can leave quickly.
- Determine where you can stay and who might be able to lend you some money.
- Keep close at hand the shelter or crisis line number, as well as loose change, a calling card or cell phone.
- Review your safety plan often so that when it comes time to leave, you will know exactly what to do.
leaving is the most dangerous time of all
Domestic violence is a pervasive problem seen in virtually all cultures, socio-economic groups, races, ethnicity; in opposite and same-sex relationships. It is a complex problem with individual solutions appropriate for different women in different socio-cultural contacts.
Both short and long term measures must be considered. Short term measures include assistance programs though battered women's shelters that protect victims and survivors. Haven's shelter program focuses on the critical period after a survivor/victim leaves home, providing food, shelter, clothing and support. This is the time the victim/survivor is most at risk from the batterer or when they might decide to return to the home and batterer out of a sense of hopelessness. Long-term goals seek to educate the pubic and empower the victim/survivor to establish and obtain their personal goals and objectives.
Haven Women's Center seeks to support victims/survivors though advocacy and support services including legal remedies, counseling and support groups, case management, safe shelter, children's services and referrals for other needed services.